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November 15, 2012

Angel Singing Penguin Goes To Heaven

New York Times:

Cleve Duncan, whose soaring tenor voice as lead singer for the Penguins helped propel the 1954 doo-wop ballad “Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine)” to rock ’n’ roll immortality, died on Nov. 7 in Los Angeles.

Art Laboe, a disc jockey who promoted Penguins concerts and produced one of Mr. Duncan’s records, announced the death on his Web site. Many sources have Mr. Duncan’s age as 77, but according to his voting records he was 78.

“Earth Angel,” which has sold more than 10 million copies, was the Penguins’ only hit. But its rhythmic, wailing plea to an idealized young woman captured the spirit of the just-emerging rock generation. “Earrrrth Aaaangel, Earrrrth Aaaangel, will you be mine?” Mr. Duncan crooned, backed by close harmony vocals and a strong beat.

For many the song evokes a glittering, timeless vision of proms, sock hops and impossibly young love. Rolling Stone placed it on its list of the 500 greatest songs ever, and films like “Back to the Future” have used it to conjure an era.

Cleveland Duncan was born on July 23 of either 1934 or 1935 in Los Angeles, and learned to sing in his church choir and glee clubs. In 1953 he was singing in a talent show attended by Curtis Williams, an aspiring songwriter and baritone singer who thought Mr. Duncan would best give voice to “Earth Angel.” Read more.

Clive is second from bottom in photo. Sorry about the headline - I couldn't help myself..

Posted by acapnews at November 15, 2012 11:23 PM

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